MyQ Smart Garage Door Hub Install

We’ve been here over eight years now, and the past several years I’ve been installing smart home products to add convenience and piece of mind to our home. This past Christmas I picked up a Chamberlain MyQ smart hub that was on sale for $17 (now regularly about $39). Finally this month I installed the unit in our garage.

The smart MyQ units mate seamlessly with the Chamberlain garage door units I installed a few years ago. What they allow me to now do is through the MyQ phone app I can see if the doors are open or closed, get alerts when someone opens a garage door, and generally have more piece of mind when I’m away from home or don’t feel like walking outside to check on the garage doors.

The system consists of a hub that connects to your home wi-fi, and a module that goes on your garage door. The hub communicates with the door module and understands its position – up or down. I can also use the app to actually open or close doors from anywhere where I have an internet connection. This is awesome for vacation or late at night. I can also push a signal if someone needs to get into the garage and it is locked and I am away.

Installation is incredibly easy, though it did take me an hour or more because I move slow and had to fiddle with the app a bit when I inadvertently lost my place. The hub is basically ready to go and the app walks you through step by step, and also the app indicates what tools you need.

Basically you plug in the hub and sync it with your phone and the door sensor module. You then mount the door sensor on the upper right or left panel of your garage door. There is a video in the app so there’s really no way to screw it up.

Note, before I mounted the hub I did have to press the yellow button on my garage door opener to sync it to the hub. I also made sure everything in the app looked and worked well.

Once everything is synced and ready to go, you mount the hub near an outlet, anywhere in the garage where people can see it, about 6′ off the ground minimum, and not near any metal. I was going to mount it on the ceiling but could not find a suitable location away from the metal struts holding the garage door and opener up. Instead I mounted on the back wall. The reason you need to see the hub is because if you are remote opening or closing the hub has a bright LED light that illuminates to alert anyone who is in the garage as to what is about to happen – the door is going to open or close – and they should get out of the way. There is an audible alert too.

The system works great. I can see from my phone when the door is opened or closed last, as well as its current status. To operate both garage doors, I have two separate ones, I need to get another door module and adhere it to the other door. The extra module costs about $30.

Overall I highly recommend the Chamberlain MyQ unit. It is easy to install and adds a lot of practicality for very little cost.

 

Breezeway Lights and Closet Cleanup

Winter is a pretty rad time to tackle all those household tasks that have been weighing on you. In between turkey dinners and pine tree flavored beers, any household can benefit from simple tasks such as updating burnt out light bulbs and cleaning out the closet, and ours did just that.

First up were the breezeway overhead can lights. Five of six bulbs had been burnt out for quite some time, so the it was a rather dim experience. I finally found a decent bulb that met my preferences. The basic GE LED outdoor PAR38 bulb I used was available at Lowe’s.  It’s warm (3000K) and rated for outdoor. When installed it has a nice flush look to it. There isn’t much else to say. After all we are simply talking light bulbs here.

 

The other project we tackled was cleaning out the master bedroom and closet. We packed up over eight bags of clothes, shoes and other items to donate or recycle. The room looks really open and refreshing now. Not such a stressful mess anymore.

After clean up I was able to install some shelves and a mirror we got from IKEA to create a little dressing area. I really like the space, even though it’s primarily for the wife to use. I just enjoy seeing the space now. The light reflects off the mirror and makes the room brighter.  I used drywall anchors, and wood screws (into one stud) to mount the shelf brackets to the wall. Here are pics:

Hanging Pictures

Hanging framed pictures is one of those things that seemingly never gets done. We still don’t know what to hang over the couch or to the side of the living room window. My bedroom is basically bare. All over the house we have bare walls because I never know what to hang, I’m too broke or cheap to buy anything, or I’m too lazy to get around to hanging anything.

Well that changed a bit today. On our vacation to the Pacific Northwest this year I collected a poster from each of the National Parks we visited (a couple posters I had to order online when we got home, to complete the set). I spent a pretty penny getting them all framed. Today was the day, I just went for it and hung them on the wall.

I selected the large blank wall leading from the first floor to the second floor. It’s a vast space and you’d need a super large piece of art to take up that amount of space. So instead of one piece I decided to do sort of a framed art collage on the wall. I have five framed posters so I somewhat arbitrarily hung them on the wall, according to the geographic locations of the park in the Pacific Northwest. Clever, right? I will infill around the posters with photos of our trip in various sizes and shapes. I think it will look nice.

And it feels good to get not have framed posters laying around, and it feels good having one less blank wall in the house. It makes it feel homey and is a nice reminder of our family vacation.

Visit https://scenichwys.com/product-category/posters to order posters for yourself. The ones we have all have old time cars…we wonder if the cars correlate to the year the parks were opened, but that would require research, blah.

House Painting

Good news: we got the house painted.

Best news: I didn’t have to do it.

We’ve been here seven years this year. To maintain this beautiful structure, skinned in western red cedar and cement board, it needs to be cleaned and painted every five or so years.

We called the man back who painted the house to review the state of the house and provide an estimate. The house exterior is in pretty good shape. It really needed to be cleaned though, as the clear coated cedar was showing signs of sun exposure as well as black spots from just being exposed to the air, rain and snow. The white trim was dirty. the only area that we didn’t think needed touch up were the charcoal colored sections of the house. Those looked pretty darn good.

It cost us $4,600 and took two weeks to complete the job. And it was worth every penny. The house looks brand new on the outside. And there was literally no way I would be able to have done it myself. Just the amount of time and effort required. The painters went up on the metal roof without scratching it. They knocked down all the wasp nests, cleaned out the old bird nests. They pressure washed the white porch columns. And they even stained all the decks and pressure washed the screen porch inside!

They did a fantastic job clear coating all of the cedar, it looks almost new. Overall I’m so happy and also happy I hired pros to do the work.

house painting 2019

The house was pressure washed and repainted. Here is the front porch and it looks phenomenal.

Three Apples

I grew three apples this year.

It’s been six years since I planted our apple trees.

Late this spring I decided I’d try to prune the apple trees in hopes they would actually, you know, grow apples.  I have a dozen books on growing trees, and that included instructions on how to prune them. But for the life of me I can’t understand what I’m reading when it comes to this topic. And there is like no one who will just swing by the house and show me. Luckily we have the internet and more specifically luckily we have YouTube. This dude, James Prigioni, on YouTube has a great video that I watched. It gave me the confidence to go out and massacre my little apple tree friends. (You can watch the rest of his videos here).

I went to the store and bought a hand saw and sharpened up my clippers. I did the best I could to remove the branches crowding the center of my trees. And I trimmed off dead branches. Generally working to shape up the trees. I removed up to 30% of branches on some of the trees. I pruned a little late in spring but I did the best I could when inspiration struck me.

The fruits of my labor were three apples on two trees this year. Not much progress but one of the apples was red, which is the first time we had a red apple tree produce an apple.

red-apple-on-tree

A red apple on a tree.

green-apple-on-tree

A green apple on a tree.

I plan on pruning my trees again this fall, or in the spring. They got very large this year after I pruned them. Watching the video helped out a ton because the books just weren’t explaining it to me in a way that I could understand. I really need someone to show me.

I’m sure I’m not taking very good care of my trees in terms of fertilizer or whatnot, but it is nice seeing them grow up, and maybe I’ll get lucky next year and they’ll start magically growing fruit.

I don’t know what happened to the apples. It’s late summer and they must’ve fallen or rotted off the trees. I don’t spray the trees so maybe that’s part of the problem too. Regardless, three apples is hardly anything to get excited about yet. So I just let nature take its course.

Pruning was fun and therapeutic. I look forward to playing with my apple trees some more next year.

Too Many HDMI Cords? Fix It With This…

January?

I haven’t written since January?

Ugh, I’ve been stressed all year – work has been crazy so I haven’t had the energy to sit down and write. Which I kind of miss it. So, today I had a blank Saturday in which I could do anything I want to do, including putting off cutting the grass. Even if not a lot has been going on, there’s gotta be at least something to write about since January, right?

Alright I’ll throw some product reviews at you all, over the next few posts. And we can touch base on the mice and whatever else I can think of. I need to write.

First up, back in February I picked up a pair of these Techole HDMI splitter switches. They are about ten dollars (US) on Amazon and got decent reviews.

Techole-switch-in-box

We use our living room as our primary living space. And our family time usually includes an hour or two at night watching tv or movies together. We also play video games…I think if I added it all up there are like ten devices in the living room cabinet…let’s see: two xBoxes, two DVD players, a Nintendo Switch…cable box…anyway it’s more HDMI cables then the Sony tv (the old ~50″+ version of this tv) has ports for. So I needed a splitter to take the HDMI from the tv and feed in two devices. I think I had 5 ports so I picked up two splitters or switches.

There’s not much going on here but these are solid metal switches (like I said, I ordered two) each packaged in some nice simple brown packaging.

Obviously super easy to install, just plug in your HDMI cables and you’re good to go. I believe because the devices I plugged into the switches are powered, the switches themselves are “powered”. This allows the number on the switch to illuminate so you can tell if cable 1 or cable 2 is hooked up at any given time.

Whenever you need to access a device just press the button on the switch and tune to the right input on the tv.

I also ordered these color coded HDMI cables from Cable Matters and love them as well. Good quality and very low cost. $12-18.50 for a three pack. Color coding is a blessing with all that’s going on behind the tv.

I don’t notice any reduction in quality and the switches (and cables) have worked fine since I bought them. I’d definitely recommend trying them out to help manage things and expand your cable capacity behind your tv.

 

WeMo Wall Plug

Apparently I’m addicted to smart home products now because I got another one. In all fairness, they are solving some of the myriad of problems I have. They have yet to invent a smart home device to fix my crumpling anxiety, depression and stress, but I can now control my Christmas tree lights from my phone.

Progress.

WeMo does a brilliant job packaging the plug and setup is literally plug the thing in and access it through the application on your phone. It works flawlessly. I’d be wasting our time if I tried to over explain it. So here are the pictures.

 

Syringa Patula

It wouldn’t be autumn if I didn’t find some sad plants on sale at the local DIY store to take home with me. This year’s winners are four small lilac bushes. The spouse loves smelling lilacs in the summertime and the price was right at $2.50 per bush. The variety is ‘Miss Kim’. I planted them near the septic tank and front yard. Hopefully they will establish them selves and be with us for many years to come.

Welcome home little plants!

Summer Flowers

A few photos from a sunny summer day in the yard. Not as many cone flowers came up this year. I think they’re are being over grown by weeds. Daisies, sun flowers and black-eyed-susans are here and there.

Our day lilies finally started blooming after two years since planting them. Only three of them so far but they are beautiful.

 

 

 

Transplanting the Window Tree

I’ve been watching a tree grow up in our from bed for a year or two now. It started as a wild seed and is now 12′ tall. I figured I’d better move it now since there is no sense in it growing up where it started growing.

window-tree

The “window tree” growing up in front of the foyer windows. We didn’t plant it, rather it just started growing there.

I didn’t want to just chop it down, so I tried transplanting it yesterday to a spot along the nature trail, near where another old tree had died. I dug around the base of the tree and tried to preserve as much of the roots as I could. That being said, I didn’t go overboard in my care either.

transplanted-tree

The tree transplanted along the nature trail.

After planting it I checked on it later in the day and it was not doing well so I gave it some water. I’ll check on it this morning, give it more water. Hopefully it can figure out it has a happy new home and not die.

As best I can tell it is an ash tree, which means it’s probably doomed even if it survives since we have emerald ash borers, an invasive species of insect from overseas that destroys ash trees.

I’ve not had much much with transplanting trees this year. A nice little maple that was growing wild outside my studio got transplanted a couple weeks ago, but I forgot to water it. So it’s dead now.